Compuware promises mainframe DevOps as old programmers croak

Like adding go-faster stripes to your Silver Ghost?

IBM's new mainframe

Compuware is attempting to bring big iron software into the 21st century by allowing developers to use DevOps tools to manage mainframe code.

It’s literally a life or death issue, as the industry fears that people who really know about mainframe code are about to retire – if they haven’t already expired altogether. Meanwhile, the last thing eager young coders want to learn about is Cobol.

The veteran mainframe tools vendor has struck a raft of partnerships with the hot names in the DevOps space, lining itself up with the likes of Appdynamics, Atlassian, Jenkins, SonarSource, and Splunk, which it is at pains to point out are “all leading mainstream vendors and/or open source.”

It reckons that “these integrations will help customers include the mainframe in their broader enterprise Apile/DevOps processes by allowing IT staff to perform mainframe-related tasks using popular mainstream tools.”

Of course, anyone can hook up to someone else’s API (OK, it’s more complicated than that, but you get the point). So Compuware is looking to bolster its own IP in this space by also snaffling up (most of) source code management and release automation outfit ISPW Benchmark Technologies.

There’s arguably no shortage of source code management tools, but Compuware emphasises that ISPW Benchmark’s offering spans mainframes, as well as open source and Windows. ISPW Benchmark is a relative stripling compared to Compuware; it was only founded in 1986, unlike Compuware which has its roots in the early 1970s.

Compuware has coined the phrase “mainstreaming the mainframe” for its efforts. This will be a gift to pun-loving headline writers as much as anything else, but also serves to illustrate the mainframe’s own progress over the last couple of decades. Some readers of a certain age no doubt still believe mainframes are the only “proper” computers.

Of course, it’s easy to poke fun at the idea of a company whose base is in the lumbering world of mainframes attempting to keep up with the young wizards of the DevOps/Agile/whatever world.

But while the likes of, say, Netflix, or Etsy, may be able to spin out new websites, or applications almost on a whim, the “money” that moves through their sites still largely lives on mainframes. For now, anyway. As Compuware points out, “mainframe applications remain indispensible as systems of record and as back-end support for customer engagement.”

Some of the disciplines of the old mainframe world might not go amiss in less mature organisations.

And if you’re still scoffing, remember it was flakey mainframe software, and lack of experienced staff, that floored RBS/NatWest’s systems a few years ago. ®

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